The Power of Bodyweight Workout

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Melanie Mediate | AbsTHE GREEK GODS DIDN’T HAVE GYMS – Yet somehow they managed to get ripped in a lean way! Bulky muscle is not a thing of the past.  I’d say 90% of what’s in the gym these days creates either redundancies, bulkiness and/or bad posture.  It’s all goes back to the age-old saying- “quality over quantity.”  Ever seen the movie 300?  In fact, one actor from 300, Andrew Pleavin, completed the workout in 18 minutes, 11 seconds.  Below you can see the workouts done for the movie itself:

  • Pullups – 25 reps
  • Barbell Deadlift with 135 lbs. – 50 reps
  • Pushups – 50 reps
  • 24-inch Box Jumps – 50 reps
  • Floor Wipers – 50 reps
  • Single-Arm Clean-and-Press with 36 lbs Kettlebell – 50 reps
  • Pullups – 25 reps

Of course, variations of this can be done for intermediate and beginner levels, but you can see that everything done is based on bodyweight workouts.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Melanie Mediate | Body Weight WorkoutWHAT IS A BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT – Bodyweight exercises are some of the most common and beneficial exercises that you can do.  These exercises do not use free weights or any other type of equipment or gym based machines.  Instead, the person exercising uses their own bodyweight as the sole form of resistance for the workout.  By including bodyweight exercises in your regular fitness routine, you can strengthen your body all on your own. Bodyweight exercises can help you stay fit at home and stay on a budget.  The beauty about bodyweight exercises is that they are perfect for traveling, home workouts or mixing up your regular exercise routine.

WHY MACHINES CREATE REDUNDANCIES AND BAD POSTURE – You can rarely work more than one muscle group in a single machine whereas in most bodyweight exercises you have to work multiple areas at once because you are the machine.  Thus, it requires your entire body to produce the movements and your posture is required to constantly be in check; with a machine, you are generally sitting down and relaxing half of the body while another part is working.  This can cause posture distortion patterns if preciseness and careful attention is not paid.  This is due to the fact that the body part that is relaxed will tend to aid in your body’s natural tendencies to relax, causing overcompensation and/or overuse of the primary muscles being worked which causes form and posture to distort in order to lift or press the load.  A common example is arching of the back during a seated shoulder press.  By relaxing the lower portion of your body you are not only disengaging that portion of your body, but you are setting yourself up to overcompensate in your shoulders which will cause a need to over-push in order to get underneath the load, causing your lower back to arch leading to possible injuries & forced down time.

NEW-SCHOOL IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER – Doing that same shoulder press in it’s old school version – a standing upright shoulder press or what I love to use – functional sandbags Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Melanie Mediate | Sandbags is not only more effective, it also causes you to engage your entire body just by standing upright.  In return, you’re able to more easily press the load over head without arching.  When we stand, our force while lifting comes through the heels and we use the force of our entire body to lift a load.  Imagine trying to lift something heavy while sitting.  You wouldn’t do this right?  It would put strain on your back so you would instead stand up and get in front of the item, then lift it – so why would you try to lift weights while sitting?  Standing and lifting will naturally provide more overall control and less of a tendency to over engage the back.

COMPOUND EXERCISES (MULTIPLE BODY PARTS WORKED SIMULTANEOUSLY) VERSUS SINGLE BODY PART (IE: MACHINES) – Not only is the above true with seated exercises and posture distortion problems over the time of using machines, but it also creates a total redundancy when it comes to overall efficiency of your body’s fat burning rate during the routine and what it could be if you were doing more at once.  Imagine taking that same standing shoulder press and then compounding it into a weighted squat and then an overhead press on your way back to the upright stance.

This compound version not only gets two things done at once, saving you loads of time during your busy day, it is more efficient in that it speeds your overall heart rate up quicker causing your cardiovascular endurance to be tested, burning nearly double the amount of calories in one workout, increasing your post workout fat burn and raising your overall metabolic rate.  Bodyweight exercises are fantastic because they cause the muscle groups to work from the core and inside out, rather than the outside in or packing muscle over mass.

PLYOMETRICS – THE ALL-IN-ONE GOD OF BODYWEIGHT EXERCISE – PLYOMETRIC BODYWEIGHT FAT BURN & LEAN MUSCLE GAIN ALL IN ONE – Plyometric exercises use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power and to improve overall speed.  Basically, it’s an exercise that allows muscles to exert maximum force in the shortest amount of time possible. With plyometrics, your muscles are all engaged creating multiple compound moves all in one.  The cardiovascular system is in full force and the heart rate is brought up much faster than a basic form of cardio such as jogging at a moderate pace; or even as compared to a more intense form of cardio such as sprinting- because the jumping motion is such a test on your overall heart rate and endurance.  With plyometrics, you’re generally doing a form of a strength exercise, such as a squat, that is then compounded into a cardio movement (making it a squat jump). This burns extra calories in less time!


Sample of a common gym workout:

P1:  treadmill or elliptical for 20 minutes – heart rate brought up to moderate rate burning some fat

 -5 minutes avg breaking between cardio and strength parts of the workout. —

P2: 1. squat /or seated leg press (break for avg 1-2 minutes between exercise needed to move to next routine due to location of equipment in gym )

       2. pushups or lying chest press

repeat 1 & 2 of part 2 for 3-4 rounds with breaking between, untimed.

Bodyweight workout: Timed strength & cardio full body interval circuit

Timed work/break: 1 minute timed work/ 10-15 seconds timed breaking & no moving between workouts where heart rate could go down because all exercises are in one spot for best results at keeping heart rate up.

1. Burpees (pushup with hop through and leap jump)  (-10 sec rest -heart rate stays up, fat is being burned muscles are being toned. )

2. Core crunches

(repeat 10 sec break)

3. Squat jumps

repeat 1-3 x 4 rounds.

Compare the two workouts above.  They are basically the same workouts but one is more effective in every way. The second workout becomes so much more effective than running or using the elliptical for 20 minutes and then finishing with a seated leg press or squat after you have begun to cool down.  This is because with the second one you’re doing them all at once: a squat jump versus running followed by a squat or seated leg press keeps the heart rate up and all the muscles engaged at once creates more output and muscle and cardio endurance in a shorter amount of time.  This yields more fat burn and muscle toning in a shorter amount of time.  You don’t need a heavy load to build muscle.  If you are working to your max effort using just your bodyweight and low break times, you will build muscle effectively using your body as your own gym.

USING INTERVAL TRAINING IN THE FORM OF CIRCUITS TO INCREASE FAT BURN- Less break time also keeps the heart rate up and allows you to do shorter forms of cardiovascular bouts with active rests such as dropping down into a crunch rather than taking actual full rest breaks where you tend to lose track of time and let the heart rate get back to a comfortable state – which is thus less effective for fat burning.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Melanie Mediate | Health FitnessMelanie is a San Diego native, a lover of outdoor activities, cooking, friends & family, & is an entrepreneur at heart.  As a personal chef and fitness coach, she has been able to combine her two career passions – which has proven to be an exciting journey.  Inspired by a love for cooking & entertaining, Melanie attended the Art Institute of San Diego and in 2006, she became a personal chef.  Ever since been then, she has been preparing nutritious gourmet meals (personal meal deliveries & private party catering) for residents in La Jolla, Carmel Valley and all over North County San Diego.  Melanie is NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified and is the founder of Rock Body Food.  Melanie truly loves her job of teaching others how to do what she loves & lives herself!


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